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Politics and Public Service: The Most Lucrative Business Enterprises in Nigeria Today (2)

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The irony of it all is that all these people who inflict these economic and social pains on their brothers and sisters are front row members of different denominations in the Christian church. They are regularly and religiously seen parading themselves with every sanctimonious approach in the church with bogus, amorphous and appetizing Christian titles that lack salvation and redemption in the door-steps of the characters concerned.

In this case, church is therefore a very comfortable camouflage in the hands of these dramatis personae who feel and believe very strongly that the best way to conceal their looting of the treasury and financial misconducts in their official positions is by competing with the common masses who have taken solace in God and churches for all the injustices meted out to them, in attending church services devotionally and leading different pious societies devoutly. What a sinful society!

Informatively, another vice that is appended to public service and politics which makes them more lucrative, juicy and lush is sycophancy. Sincerely, sycophants in government business seem to be more gainfully remunerated with money, properties, rapid promotions, good positions in offices, more accepted by the powers that be, more regarded at the corridors of power, financially and socially taller than their mates in the peer group looting spree in public service and politics. In Nigeria, once you are very close to any government in power you become untouchable and any fraud committed by you attracts sainthood to you which might be crowned with a merit award.

Before independence in Nigeria, when the white men colonized us and even some years after independence, ranging from 1960s to late 1970s, there was stability, orderliness and decorum in the system. During that period, this country witnessed financial discipline, tremendous progress and development, peace and tranquillity, equity and fairness, justice and love, growth in education through scholarships, proper implementations of annual government budgets and appropriations, good judicial system, proper training of staffers through routine courses arranged for them for efficiency and proficiency, accountability and probity, good professional conducts and thorough exhibition of professionalism amongst all cadre of our security operatives and agencies. But today, there is abysmal rottenness in our present day government and their system of governance which are rooted in the abracadabra services witnessed in the hands of our well-positioned and opportune public servants and politicians.

There is every indication that the thoughts, ideas and insistence of paying newly approved N18,000.00 (Eighteen thousand naira only) minimum wage to only levels 1-6 in public service by some state governors seem to be anchored on this notion expressed and exhibited by this write-up. For, it is believed that it is only this cadre of public servants that need to be empowered economically, for they seem to be marginalized with the highest level of corruption and insincerity going on in the top echelon of the order.

The plundering and ransacking of public treasury by most public servants and successful politicians in this country is pitiably a systemic overture that has been torturing the common masses of this country economically, thereby rupturing their sensibilities which are witnessed in their idiotic and idiosyncratic attitude to life that have been baptized and branded indiscipline and insubordination by the initiators of the misdemeanour.

Most recently, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi made this country Nigeria and the world to know the monumental, unprecedented and unacceptable fraud and financial scam that had been going on in our banking sector. No thanks to the directors, chief executives, managers and staffers of the banks in our country. This unfortunate but criminal incidence had led to the sweeping away of some of the perpetrators of these inhuman and ungodly acts from their plum positions/jobs. Most of the workers of the financial institutions in our country who cleverly resigned, retired or were retired before Alhaji Sanusi hurricane-force wind had been thanking their God for escaping from being exposed in the substantial fraud and swindle they committed against the Nigerian depositors, Nigerian economy and the entire Nigeria populace that would have thrown them into jail. They are comfortable but with a heavy moral burden in their hearts, enjoying their loots through incessant trips to abroad and mindless accumulation of properties within and outside Nigeria.

Honestly writing, a visit to most of the ministries, parastatals and local governments will definitely force tears down your cheeks because of the deplorable conditions of the offices and the monumental infrastructural decay and decrepitude witnessed. Most of the offices do not have window blinds, chairs, tables and even writing materials. Most of the chairs and tables seen are only good for re-designing somebody’s attires, if not used with absolute care. The questions are: Where are the moneys and funds appropriated for the maintenance and upkeep of these offices? Is the negligence and defrauding caused by the government in power or the chief executives, bosses and directors of these offices? The commissioners, permanent secretaries, directors, chairmen of both local governments, chairmen of different boards, heads of personnel and executive officers of all sorts should answer these questions.

How time changeth! In the 1970s and early 1980s, the economy of this country was controlled by business men and private sectors. Public service sector was treated and regarded as a quiet place for average earners and disciplined people. Politics was even seen as an occupation meant for idle citizens and retirees. Then, there was little or no corruption. People were doing things with good conscience. Justice was adequate and offenders were properly and appropriately punished. Creativity and self-realization were encouraged and upheld. Hard work was promoted and supported. But today in this era of corruption, reverse is the case. Most business men are presently living beggarly life. They are merely existing and living life of hand-to-mouth arrangement with bleak future. Most of them are seen selling their properties and household utensils in order to sustain their living and pay their children school fees who are in public schools which they can afford.

But today, all the magnificent edifices, tall and gigantic buildings with state-of-the art architectural designs seen built or springing up in our society ubiquitously, all the exotic and posh cars, sybaritic and voluptuous vehicles and heavy duty automobiles are owned by our public servants, politicians and their cronies. No thanks to corruption that has given license and credence to looting and squandering of the economy with impunity that collectively belong to all of us. Buying of empty lands and finished buildings in choice areas in our environment is just like paying for chin-chin and sachet water to them.

But our consolation in this country is that nothing is permanent. Everything changes except change. Honestly, Nigeria will not remain like this. God forbid! There is every hope that all these rubbishes prevalent in Nigeria today will one day be a thing of the past. I am of a very strong opinion that in no distant future, this country Nigeria will be a better place with equal opportunities for all of us to live and smile before kissing the dust. But my candid and foremost prayer is: May the Almighty God keep me and my family alive to see that promised period. If you are comfortable with this prayer and that is your own prayer all the time, I simply want you to echo A-M-E-N!

May the Almighty God continue to bless us in Jesus Name. Amen

 

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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